Once Upon Another Time is the title track of her 2012 EP. The EP was produced by her friend and fellow singer/songwriter Ben Folds and was recorded in his Nashville studio. Sara explained to American Songwriter Magazine why she named the record after this song: “The title track is really about loss of your childhood,” she said, “and letting go of your past, and that’s a part of my life right now, a journey I feel like I’m on. It felt befitting to name the album that.”
So that said, the song really needs no other explanation.
But what’s the fun in that?
When I hear this song, I see a grandmother with her grandkids on a covered porch. For the sake of this post let’s name her Grandma Sara. It’s a warm summer afternoon, and there’s a porch swing, daisies in a vase and lemonade on the side-table. Grandma Sara was pulled by her grandkids to re-tell a story they heard dozens of times, but never gets old. The kids sit in a half circle around her as if it’s kindergarten story time and they squeal, “Tell us again Grandma, tell us again!” “Tell us the story of when you left home and got to be an adult!” Wide-eyed and attentive they sit. Ready to hang on her every word. And with that, Grandma strikes a match, lights a citronella candle to keep the bugs away and starts to sing…
Once upon another time
Somebody’s hands who felt like mine
Turned the key and took a drive
“ooooh”, and “aaaaahs” emit from the half circle and now the grandkids are hooked again and begin to lean in. Smiles from ear to ear. The youngest takes a sip of lemonade and squints, because the drink is a bit too tart.
I recall the sun sank low
Buckley on the radio
Cigarette was burning slow
“Woah, Grandma smoked? No way!” “What’s Buckley Grandma?” “Not what? but who, Grandma? Who’s Buckley?” “I don’t understand? Get to the part where you let the sun kiss you every day. I just love that part.” “Grandma Sara, you’re so cool!”
Sara has this unique ability to create new music that feels feel vintage and sophisticated. Sara’s sound has been described as everything from Norah Jones to Fiona Apple, and I’d even throw Ella Fitzgerald in the conversation. People like to make comparisons, because comparisons allow for an easy introduction for the unfamiliar. But while Sara is inspired my many, she is as individual as they come and has forged her own path with raw talent, hard work and years of determination. At the beginning of the song, Sara starts a capella and just shows off. The vocals are sick. Lyrics are sick. In summation this song is sick. Flat out angelic. A bit too much sustain overall, but that’s a theme for the entire EP and not just this song.
The first section is retrospective of what she thought life was like during a time when she though she had it all figured out. She’s alone to experience life. No enemies yet, no porch light (read: address) or family to tie her down. She’s free in her solitude and her singular voice is the metaphor. In this moment she had it all, but Sara’s perspective in the story telling (Remember, Grandma Sara is telling this story to her grandkids) is of a wiser self who realizes this was a time of necessary naivety. It’s only until the strings, other voices and ambient sounds come into play where she transitions the story to a girl who starts to dream, and with that dream comes outside forces which would pull at her while she’s on her journey.
I saw myself in summer nights
And stars lit up like candle lights
I made my wish but mostly I
“Grandma Sara, after you tell us about how awesome it is to drive a car, can I have some more lemonade please?”
Thanks for stopping by for a visit.
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